Who'd have thought they could make wine in Wales? God's own country is green and pleasant because of the frequency with which the atmosphere turns moist, a weather condition not usually associated with good terroir. Yet, hot on the heels of a truly tremendous valleys' whiskey distillery at Penderyn, Cymru now also boasts the Sugarloaf Vineyard just outside of Abergavenny. Markontour had the pleasure of trying the tasting menu in the spring bank holiday sunshine.
As the name suggests, the vineyard sits at the foot of the Sugarloaf mountain and we came upon it after brief trek up to the peak to take in the glorious views of the Brecon Beacons. While it was crisp up top, the low-lying vineyard is protected from the winds by the mountain's bulk and it was still warm enough to lounge outside on the inviting brook-side chairs as the day crept towards dusk. It reminded me a bit of the Edradour distillery in Pitlochry, although a friend was thinking Tuscany!
I'm not going to pretend that these were the finest vintages markontour has ever tasted, but I could imagine enjoying the strawberry-flavoured rose on a summer's day, and the black-cherry red was surprisingly pleasant, if not long on the taste. I can, however, recommend the cafe's carrot cake without hesitation, along with the fine selection of woollen hats on sale. Indeed, an orange pom-pommed specimen adorned the author's head following the visit.
So Wales is now a wine producing nation. I vaguely recall that this is nothing new and that Roman invaders found cultivated vines in what they otherwise considered to be barbarian, druid dominated lands when they invaded two thousand years ago. Or maybe it's another one of those wonderful Welsh myths. Who cares – the Sugarloaf Vineyards are another good reason to go to Wales (soleil permitting).